Our Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is currently in Washington D.C. for talks with senior officials of the Donald J Trump Administration. I am looking forward to a meaningful outcome of this visit .
Today Washington is the second most important world capital for New Delhi to get on with . American President F. D. Roosevelt rendered valuable contribution to Indian Independence from British rule. One of his successors President John F Kennedy compared our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Abraham Lincoln. Yet political relations between New Delhi and Washington were never as fine as they ought to have been between the two democracies. Things have started changing considerably positive only in the post-Cold War landscape.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks determined to attain new highs in relations between the two capitals. During his visit to the United States in September –October 2014, Modi had a comprehensive dialogue with then American President Barack Obama on energy, health, space, women’s empowerment, trade, skills, strategy and security. They agreed to take steps aimed at increasing the current $100 billion Indo-US trade five-fold by 2020 .
During Obama’s India visit in 2015, New Delhi and Washington signed : declaration of friendship with regular summits; joint statement, “Shared Effort, Progress for all;” and joint strategic vision statement on the Asia-Pacific and the Indian ocean region. New Delhi and Washington concluded agreements on the establishment of a hotline , the renewal of their ten-year Defence Strategic framework (2005) and the commercialization of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal (2008).
Washington assured New Delhi of its support to get membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australian Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). They reiterated their commitment to “disrupt” terror groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e- Mohammad, D Company and the Haqqani Network. Also, they agreed to increase anti-terror cooperation, intelligence sharing and maritime security.
Recently, our Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his U.S. counterpart James Mattis have reaffirmed their commitment to advancing the cooperation institutionalised under the Major Defence Partner (MDP) status.
Secretary Jaishankar is expected to fine- tune the entire diplomatic mechanism to access the Trump administration effectively and boost Indo-US ties in all areas. New Delhi needs an early implementation of the India-US civil nuclear agreement . Given the nature of the growing Indian economy and its futuristic profile, New Delhi needs nuclear power on a very large scale. India has no alternative to nuclear energy right now.
New Delhi has to see to it that Washington whole-heartedly supports India’s proposed inclusion in the important select world clubs, including the UN Security Council . In addition, Washington’s present cooperation with New Delhi on combating Islamist terrorism needs to be made more real than apparent. Significantly, the Trump administration seems to appreciate what New Delhi has long been stressing since long -- the need to dismantle the various links Islamist terrorism has the world over , including with elements in Pakistan’s Army and Inter Service Intelligence. Like New Delhi , Washington seems to see little distinction between "good terrorism and bad terrorism."
Reports are Jaishankar may raise two other issues (1) the H-IB visa and (2) the safety of Indian nationals living in the United States, the latter against the background of the recent murder of young Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas. The H1B visa allows US firms to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The United States annually issues 65,000 H-1B visas to Indians.
I think New Delhi should stay away from discussing such issues with Washington. These issues are related to American economy and internal security . Like the Modi government in New Delhi, the Trump one in Washington has its own economic agenda at home. Each must not interfere with the other’s sphere .
As for the Kansas case, it is clearly yet another manifestation of growing racial tension in the United States today. This kind of racial hatred in any state is to be taken care of primarily by the respective civil society . Given the status of American society and democracy, I am sure , the Trump administration itself must be busy commanding its relevant law enforcement agencies to probe all such tragic incidents and devise effective mechanism against any such recurrence in future .
Also, the Trump administration must be engaging its own civil society to curb this evil . Together they have to see to it that the forces detrimental to the cherished American values do not succeed in converting the United States into yet another land where human life has no value .
I would suggest New Delhi could better focus on its own economy and security. There is still so much of poverty, illiteracy, squalor and violence in our Republic. This has largely been due to the insensitivity of the successive political leaderships in New Delhi and its provincial capitals. The current leadership in the country could initiate such policies and programmes at home that no Indian citizen feels compelled to seek employment and security abroad.
Our leadership may get up and listen to the mother of the slain Indian engineer. She has reportedly said : “One of the Kuchibhotla family went to the US for a better future.... I will not allow my younger son to go back to the US again.” The mother’s key word is ‘ better future.’ We all know what the present of common people in India still is ! We all know what to them a better future means !